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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 1549, Helping Sick Americans Now Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to the rule on H.R. 1549, the so-called "Helping Sick Americans Act.''

This ill-conceived and misguided legislation takes funds from the Prevention and Public Health Fund to increase financing of the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program, PCIP. This sounds laudable but the facts are that this bill hurts an important program that our nation needs. The rule for the bill does not address the problems with this legislation.

Cutting funding from public health funds is a risky move. We know from countless studies that money invested in public health is a solid investment. It improves the lives of thousands of Americans, especially our most vulnerable members: the elderly, the young, the sick, the disabled and the poor.

In March 2010, Congress passed and President Obama signed the historic health reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In addition to extending life-saving health insurance coverage to 31 million by 2019, the law includes a suite of provisions that have the potential to substantially reform our nation's health care system.

One of these provisions is the establishment of the Prevention and Public Health Fund. This is the nation's first dedicated mandatory federal funding stream for public health and prevention activities.

The Prevention Fund was created to increase the nation's investment in prevention in order to improve health outcomes and decrease health care costs.

In the first two years of its existence, 2010 and 2011, the Fund provided $1.25 billion for critical programs that prevent tobacco use, decrease HIV rates, increase physical activity and healthy eating, increase immunization rates, and many other activities.

States and communities across the nation are already implementing and benefiting from these programs.

Public health is an essential component of the U.S. health system: its infrastructure and prevention-based programs wrap around clinical health systems to improve population health and reduce health care costs.

Local health departments work with a wide range of community partners to create conditions and policies that help people make healthy choices, such as avoiding tobacco use, becoming more physically active, and eating healthier foods. All these proactive measures contribute to the prevention of chronic diseases and associated risk factors like obesity and smoking.

For all of these reasons, I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing this rule.

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